The Football Association of Wales is saddened to hear of the passing away of one of its greatest refereeing ambassadors in John Gow from Swansea.
John started his refereeing career in Birmingham, where he was teaching at the time before moving back to Swansea in 1965. Whilst in Birmingham he progressed through the Leagues before being appointed to the Linesman’s List in 1960 and promoted to Referee in 1963.
He continued on the Referees’ List until his retirement at the end of the 1977/78 season and during his time on the list he took charge of all the big derby matches, Manchester United v Manchester City, Arsenal v Tottenham etc., and the hardest game of the 70’s was always Manchester City v Leeds. Indeed, such was his stock as a Referee he took charge of the Merseyside derby a total of 6 times, which is some record and speaks volumes for his ability.
He was also a FIFA Referee of some repute handling big games across Europe. One game stands out from his travels in that not long after the USSR had invaded Czechoslovakia they were due to play a World Cup Qualifier in Prague and John was given the match. He travelled by train and it worked out that he spent 8 days away from home for this one match.
Upon his retirement he became a UEFA Referee Observer, a Football League Referee Assessor and, of course, an Assessor within Wales where he was National Referees’ Officer for several years.
He served the West Wales FA in several refereeing capacities, retiring as their Referees’ Officer in 2013. He spent countless hours recruiting, developing and helping young referees over the years and many in the game today are where they are today through the help and guidance John gave them.
Professionally he was a Science Master (Head of Department at Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive School) and his big three loves were his family (Wife Glenys, who sadly passed away last year, and his two daughters Helen and Deborah), Education, whether in School or Referee related, and refereeing itself. He was a fount of refereeing knowledge.
Former FAW National Referees’ Manager Rodger Gifford commented: “Welsh Football and Welsh Refereeing has lost one of its greats. John Gow has influenced so many referees over the years in the right way.
“On the pitch he let his refereeing do his talking for him. Off the pitch he was always readily available to help and advise. I had the privilege of running my first line on the Football League to him at Bristol Rovers against Oldham Athletic and the following year my first UEFA appointment was with John in the European Cup between Sligo Rovers and Red Star Belgrade.
“It was a pleasure to have known him for over 40 years as a colleague, a friend and a guiding star, he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”